My Friend Donna Edwards


By Valerie Ervin

When I woke up this morning and saw the cover of The Nation, a widely read progressive magazine, I knew something amazing and life altering and affirming was happening. My great friend and sister, Congresswoman Donna Edwards, in all of her power and irrepressible goodness and might, was on the cover. It was the first time during this year-long and difficult fight for a true representative government, that I shed tears of joy. Finally, the truth about the struggles of black women in politics, in culture, in the workplace and in America was on full display.

I’ve known Donna since I was 11 years old and she was 10. I can remember the first time I met the family down the street from my house on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As it turns out, our fathers had served together in Okinawa during the Korean War and were very good friends long before we were even born. Donna was very much like she is today- a really smart, tough, and bossy sister who was just like me, secretly her father’s favorite.
I could always feel Donna’s resoluteness. She wanted to be a pilot and serve her country. She was the Senior Class President at her high school. I knew back then that she was destined for great things. I am not surprised that she became the woman that God intended her to be. Strong, loving, passionate and caring for all people, especially those who struggled like she did.

You see, as a friend of mine used to say: “You see my glory, but don’t know my story.” Donna struggled to raise her son Jared, put food on the table, and make sure that her son had all he needed to succeed. She put him through college and she forged ahead building a career for herself as a lawyer, an advocate for battered women, and a fighter for the environment in her community. She didn’t do it for the applause or accolades. That’s just what we black women do. We do it all not because we can, but because we must. People are depending on us to succeed.

That is why I am so passionate about my support for Congresswoman Donna Edwards in her historic run for U.S. Senator from Maryland. She’s one of us. She knows our struggles because she has lived them. For all of us. She is the reason our ancestors fought, -and died, scrimped, saved- and prayed that someday she would arrive at her seat at the table.

Let’s do whatever we can do to get Donna over the finish line. It will be a race determined by turn-out and we know that black women have historically carried many other Democrats over the finish line. This time it is for one of our own! Getting Donna elected to the U.S. Senate means all of us win.

Valerie Ervin is the Co-chair of the national Working Families Party and the past Executive Director of the Participatory Democracy Project and the Center for Working Families. Valerie served two terms on the County Council in Montgomery County, Maryland and was the Council’s President in 2011.